Best and Fastest M.2 NVMe SSD You Can Buy Today (Q2 2018)
In this article let’s explore some of the best and fastest M.2 NVMe SSDs that are available today. SSD or Solid State Drive has been evolving ever since it first came into the market. Today SSDs are built with plethora of features and cutting edge technologies, unlike the early SSDs. We also now have more brands to choose from, more and larger capacity options, and at various price range. But in this article, I have narrowed them down to just 6 different M.2 NVMe SSDs, plus 1 “budget” M.2 NVMe SSD that you might want to consider. These SSDs are the latest and fastest (as of today) that the current technology has to offer and are readily available to purchase online. You simply can’t go wrong with any of these SSDs, and I think most of you would choose based on personal preference, or maybe not. Anyway go ahead and check them below.
Best and Fastest M.2 NVMe SSDs
|M.2 NVMe SSD||NAND||Controller||Capacities||Max. Seq. Read Speed||Max. Seq. Write Speed||Write Endurance (Terabytes Written)||Warranty||Pricing & Availability|
|WD Black 3D||SanDisk 64-layer 3D TLC||Western Digital||250GB, 500GB, 1TB||up to 3,400 MB/s||up to 2,800 MB/s||200, 300, 600 TBW||5 years||Amazon.com|
|Samsung 970 Pro||Samsung 64-layer 3D MLC V-NAND||Samsung Phoenix||512GB, 1TB||up to 3,500 MB/s||up to 2,700 MB/s||600, 1200 TBW||5 years||Amazon.com|
|Samsung 970 Evo||Samsung 64-layer 3D TLC||Samsung Phoenix||250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB||up to 3,500 MB/s||up to 2,500 MB/s||150, 300, 600, 1200 TBW||5 years||Amazon.com|
|HP EX920||Micron 64-Layer 3D TLC||HP H8038||256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB||up to 3,200 MB/s||up to 1,800 MB/s||100, 200, 300, 400 TBW||3 years||Amazon.com|
|Samsung 960 Pro||Samsung 48-layer MLC V-NAND||Samsung Polaris||512GB, 1TB, 2TB||up to 3,500 MB/s||up to 2,100 MB/s||400, 800, 1200 TBW||5 years||Amazon.com|
|Samsung 960 Evo||Samsung 48-layer TLC V-NAND||Samsung Polaris||250GB, 500GB, 1TB||up to 3,200 MB/s||up to 1,900 MB/s||100, 200, 400 TBW||3 years||Amazon.com|
|Kingston A1000||Toshiba 64-layer BiCS3 3D TLC||Phison PS5008-E8||240GB, 480GB, 960GB||up to 1,500 MB/s||up to 1,000 MB/s||120, 300, 600 TBW||5 years||Amazon.com|
Why M.2 NVMe SSD?
NVMe SSD is currently the fastest type of storage drive that is available to the consumers. It’s similar to SATA based SSDs in a sense that they don’t use any moving mechanical parts. But unlike SATA, which we already hit the limits of its speeds, NVM Express or Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification is a much faster and more efficient form of interface that reduces input/output overhead.
NVMe SSDs come in M.2, U.2 and PCIe interface. M.2 is the more popular among the three due to various factors. It’s small, consumes less power, compatible with both a desktop PC and laptop or other mobile devices (provided they have and support M.2 NVMe SSD) and it’s a more practical design compared to the U.2 and PCIe.
Now in terms of speed, most of you probably know how fast (or slow) a mechanical hard drive is. Even the latest and fastest WD Black high performance hard drives or Seagate’s Barracuda Pro could not keep up with a SATA SSD; especially when there are several operations that involves reading and/or writing on the drive happening simultaneously. However, we already hit the speed limit of the SATA III 6Gbps interface. The fastest SATA SSDs today, like the Samsung 860 PRO or Crucial MX500, can only do around 500MB/s++ sequential read/write speeds due to the limitations of the SATA III interface. And this is where NVMe SSD comes in; pushing the boundaries and speed limit even further. Like way further!
WD Black 3D M.2 NVMe SSD
First on the list is the new WD Black 3D M.2 NVMe SSD that was recently released last April. This is the company’s second WD Black NVMe SSD. The first one was also called WD Black that has a blue PCB. Unfortunately, the first one wasn’t fast enough to keep up with the competition and didn’t live up to the expectation. It was somewhat a disappointing NVMe SSD, considering that it carried the “Black” branding.
Fast forward last month and WD released the new WD Black 3D M.2 NVMe SSD, featuring a Western Digital in-house controller paired with SanDisk 64-lay 3D TLC and SK Hynix DDR4-2400 DRAM. It’s able to reach speeds of up to 3,400 MB/s sequential read and up to 2,800 MB/s sequential write speeds. 4K random read speeds is up to 500,000 IOPS and 4K random write speeds is up to 400,000 IOPS. You can choose from 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacity; of course the 1TB capacity has the highest possible speed and highest write endurance rating of 600 Terabytes Written.
WD’s Black 3D M.2 NVMe SSD pricing starts at $120 USD for the 250GB and goes up to $450 USD for the 1TB. Prices do change from time to time; you can check the latest pricing and availability on Amazon here.
Samsung 970 PRO and EVO M.2 NVMe SSD
Up next is Samsung’s 970 PRO and 970 EVO M.2 NVMe SSD series – the company’s direct answer to WD’s Black 3D. Samsung’s previous M.2 NVMe SSD was the 960 PRO and EVO series. However, with the release of WD’s Black 3D NVMe SSD, they were both dethroned in terms of performance. So Samsung had to counter WD’s move by releasing the 970 PRO and EVO series.
The Samsung 970 PRO and 970 EVO features the company’s Phoenix controller paired with also their own 64-layer 3D MLC V-NAND for the 970 PRO series and 64-layer 3D TLC for the 970 EVO series. The 970 PRO features speeds of up to 3,500 MB/s sequential read or up to 500,000 IOPS 4KB random read; and up to 2,700 MB/s sequential write or 500,000 IOPS 4KB random write speeds. Meanwhile, the 960 PRO is (very) slightly slower at up to 3,400 MB/s-3,500 MB/s sequential read speeds and up to 2,500 MB/s sequential write speeds. Generally speaking, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in speed between the two in real world use.
The main difference between the 970 PRO and 960 EVO is that the PRO uses an MLC NAND chip, while the EVO has TLC NAND chip. The 970 PRO also doesn’t rely on SCL write caching, resulting in a longer write speed consistency than the 970 EVO. The 970 PRO series also has twice the rated write endurance than the 970 EVO. Though, you shouldn’t worry about this, unless you really want something “premium”.
HP EX920 M.2 NVMe SSD
The next M.2 NVMe SSD drive is coming from HP, something that we didn’t expect at all. The HP EX920 M.2 NVMe SSD is not really that fast enough to compete with Samsung and WD’s offering, well at least in terms of write speed. But it is cheaper and offers a more competitive pricing compared to the Samsung 970 series and WD Black 3D series.
The HP EX920 M.2 NVMe SSD offers sequential read speed of up to 3,200 MB/s and sequential write speed of up to 1,800 MB/s. Meanwhile 4KB random read speed is up to 350,000 IOPS and random write speed is up to 250,000 IOPS. Again, the larger capacity is usually the fastest amongst the series.
It features an HP H8038 controller, which is basically a rebranded and modified Silicon Motion SM2262 controller. It also features Micron’s 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash that are located on both sides of the NVMe SSD drive; unlike the other two drives above that are single-sided. Again, the HP EX920 is not the fastest around, but it is still a fast NVMe SSD with a performance similar to a Samsung 960 EVO but at a lower cost.
You can check out the latest pricing and availability of the HP EX920 M.2 NVMe SSD on Amazon here.
Samsung 960 PRO and EVO M.2 NVMe SSD
Finally, last but not the least is Samsung’s previous generation 960 PRO and 960 EVO M.2 NVMe SSD series. These drives has been in the market since 2016 and has been the top choice for consumers ever since it was released. It’s definitely fast and the 960 series was the best around. Of course not anymore today, but they are still worth it to consider specially if you spot them having a lower price than before, or compared to the SSDs above.
The Samsung 960 PRO sports the company’s Polaris controller paired with 48-layer MLC V-NAND. It offers speeds of up to 3,500 MB/s sequential read speed and up to 2,100 MB/s sequential write speed. It does have a less impressive 4KB random read/write speed compared to the newer 970 series but not that far in real world use.
Meanwhile, the Samsung 960 EVO also features the Polaris controller paired with 48-layer TLC V-NAND chip and has SLC write cache. It features sequential read speeds of up to 3,200 MB/s; and up to 1,900 MB/s of sequential write speeds with the help of SLC cache. The write speeds would be slower without the SLC cache and again the 960 PRO has a longer sustained write speed compared to the 960 EVO. This basically means that at some point write speeds will drop or decrease once the cache is exhausted in a single operation or task, especially when you copy a large file.
The Samsung 960 PRO and 960 EVO M.2 NVMe SSDs are no longer the latest, but they still offer a decent performance compared to the newer ones today. I would only recommend the 960 PRO/EVO series if you see that their price is reasonably lower or cheaper compared to the newer 970 PRO/EVO. Check out their latest pricing and available on Amazon here and here.
Kingston A1000 M.2 NVMe SSD
Bonus drive! The Kingston A1000 M.2 NVMe SSD is by no means in the same league as the SSDs above. This is an entry-level product after all; and Kingston has the KC1000 to compete with the faster drive. I only included this one because it’s a cheap NVMe SSD and probably one of the better options you have if you want to switch or try an M.2 NVMe SSD.
The Kingston A1000 features a Phison PS5008-E8 controller and paired with Toshiba’s 256 Gb 64-layer BiCS3 3D TLC. It has a sequential read speed of up to 1,500 MB/s and up to 1,000 MB/s of sequential write speed. Its speed is definitely nowhere near compared to the SSDs above, even with the 2 year old Samsung 960 series.
It’s available in 240GB, 480GB and 960GB; with the 960GB having the fastest write speeds among the three capacities. The Kingston A1000 is definitely a cheap M.2 NVMe SSD that you might want to consider, specially if budget is limited and you want something faster than a SATA SSD. However if you can stretch your budget more, I would point you to any of the drives I mentioned above.
You can check out the latest pricing and availability of the Kingston A1000 on Amazon here.
There you have it! These are currently the best and fastest M.2 NVMe SSDs available today in the market (well at least most of them are). I know there are other M.2 NVMe SSDs out there. Let me know what SSD did you choose and if you think there is something better that is not included in this list.